The purpose of this study is to determine the role of genetics, or inheritance, in the development of prostate cancer. Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in U.S. men and is the second leading cause of cancer mortality in men. It is not known why some men develop prostate cancer and some do not. However, research studies have shown that it does have an inherited component. We inherit genes, contained in the DNA of our cells, from our parents. It is this genetic material that determines such things as the color of our eyes, hair and even affects susceptibility to certain diseases. Families that have a high incidence of prostate cancer can be studied to identify where in the DNA such genes exist.
This study proposes to conduct research based on three parameters. The study plans to focus on the Ashkenazi Jewish population. Populations such as this are useful in genetic studies because of the tendency for individuals to remain within the same culture. Within this population, only families where there are three or more affected individuals will be asked to participate. This combination will create a study population where there is a high likelihood that the men will have prostate cancer due to genetic susceptibility. Studies in this population permit use of new methods to analyze the family and DNA data. The data will be analyzed using conventional linkage disequilibrium methods and a new innovative method, which uses the haplotypes (arrangement of alleles in genes on the same chromosome) of the individual.
The identification of prostate cancer genes can allow for the development of genetic tests to determine men who are at high risk for developing prostate cancer. If the new analytical method of counting haplotypes is successful, finding disease genes in the future could be easier and more efficient. This could create a more streamlined approach to developing diagnostic and therapeutic strategies in combating diseases such as prostate cancer.